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Applied Game Theory in Politics

Introduction to Game Theory

Game Theory

Game theory is a mathematical framework used to model decision-making in situations where multiple actors interact with each other. It is used to analyze how rational individuals or groups might behave in a given scenario, and to predict the outcomes of their interactions. In political science, game theory is used to study how politicians, parties, and voters make decisions and how these decisions affect political outcomes.

Assumptions of Game Theory

Game theory is based on the assumption that individuals or groups are rational and act in their best interest. It is used to model strategic interactions between actors, where each actor's payoff depends on not only their own actions but also the actions of others. This means that in situations where multiple actors are involved, the outcome of the interaction is not just determined by one actor's decision but by the decisions of all actors involved.

The Prisoner's Dilemma

One of the most famous examples of game theory is the Prisoner's Dilemma. In this game, two criminals are arrested and brought to separate rooms for questioning. Each criminal can either cooperate with the authorities and testify against their accomplice, or remain silent. If both remain silent, they will both serve a short sentence. If one betrays the other, the betrayer will go free while the other serves a long sentence. If both betray each other, they will both serve a longer sentence. The dilemma arises because each criminal's best option is to betray the other, but if both do so, they both end up worse off than if they had both remained silent.

Applications in Political Science

Game theory is a powerful tool for predicting outcomes in political scenarios. For example, it can be used to predict the outcome of an election based on the strategies of the candidates, or to model the behavior of countries in a conflict. It can also be used to study coalition formation and bargaining, where actors must cooperate and negotiate to achieve their goals. Understanding game theory can help political scientists make accurate predictions and inform policy decisions.

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The Prisoner's Dilemma

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